20. Claim –
(1) The appropriate government may by notification in the Official Gazette appoint any Commissioner for Workmen’s Compensation or any officer of the Central Government exercising functions as a Labour Commissioner for any region or any officer of the State Government not below the rank of Labour Commissioner or any other officer with experience as a judge for a civil court or as a Stipendiary Magistrate to be the authority to hear and decide for any specified area all claims arising out of payment of less than the minimum rates of wages or in respect of the payment of remuneration for days of rest or for work done on such days under clause (b) or clause (c) of sub-section (1) of section 13 or of wages at the overtime rate under section 14 to employees employed or paid in that area.
(2) Where an employee has any claim of the nature referred to in sub-section (1) the employee himself or any legal practitioner or any official of a registered trade union authorised in writing to act on his behalf or any Inspector or any person acting with the permission of the authority appointed under sub-section (1) may apply to such authority for a direction under sub-section (3) :
Provided that every such application shall be presented within six months from the date on which the minimum wages or other amount became payable :
Provided Further that any application may be admitted after the said period of six months when the applicant satisfies the authority that he had sufficient cause for not making the application within such period.
(3) When any application under sub-section (2) is entertained the authority shall hear the applicant and the employer or give them an opportunity of being heard and after such further inquiry if any as it may consider necessary may without prejudice to any other penalty to which the employer may be liable under this Act direct –
(i) in the case of a claim arising out of payment of less than the minimum rates of wages the payment to the employee of the amount by which the minimum wages payable to him exceed the amount actually paid together with the payment of such compensation as the authority may think fit not exceeding ten times the amount of such excess;
(ii) in any other case the payment of the amount due to the employee together with the payment of such compensation as the authority may think
fit not exceeding ten rupees;
and the authority may direct payment of such compensation in cases where the excess or the amount due is paid by the employer to the employee before the disposal of the application.
(4) If the authority hearing any application under this section is satisfied that it was either malicious or vexatious it may direct that a penalty not exceeding fifty rupees be paid to be employer by the person presenting the application.
(5) Any amount directed to be paid under this section may be recovered –
(a) if the authority is a Magistrate by the authority as if it were a fine imposed by the authority as a Magistrate or
(b) if the authority is not a Magistrate by any Magistrate to whom the authority makes application in this behalf as if it were a fine imposed by such Magistrate.
(6) Every direction of the authority under this section shall be final.
(7) Every authority appointed under sub-section (1) shall have all the powers of a civil court under the Code of Civil Procedure 1908 (5 of 1908) for the purpose of taking evidence and of enforcing the attendance of witnesses and compelling the production of documents and every such authority shall be deemed to be a civil court for all the purposes of section 195 and Chapter XXXV of the Code of Criminal Procedure 1898 (5 of 1898).